The Texas weather decided to cooperate Friday as troopers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team “Ironhorse,” 1st Cavalry Division, said farewell to Col. Wilson R. Rutherford IV and welcomed Col. Michael D. Schoenfeldt during a change of command ceremony on Cooper Field.
Rutherford relinquished command of the brigade to Schoenfeldt after mounting horses in the cavalry tradition to review the assembled troops of the brigade.
“Over the last two years, Ironhorse has repeatedly demonstrated that it is prepared to conduct decisive action on behalf of our nation,” said Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, 1st Cavalry Division commander, who presided over the ceremony. “This is truly a formation that is ‘ready now,’ and Col. ‘Trey’ Rutherford has been the driver of the readiness realized by this great team. Trey, as a commander, your ability to visualize, describe, direct, lead and assess has been superb.”
Rutherford most recently led the brigade through its deployment to Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve from May 2018 to January 2019. His next assignment will be at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The outgoing commander said that when he took over the brigade two years prior, taking care of soldiers and their families was his priority.
“I promised we’d do that by building a sense of trust, empowerment ... while at the same time training hard, maintaining our equipment and holding one another accountable,” Rutherford said. “(Command) Sgt. Maj. (James) Light came up to me not long after that and said, ‘I have no idea how you’re going to cash that check.’ Thankfully we were blessed with seven incredible command teams ... who took that vision and made it their own. Across the formation, leaders looked where they could coach, teach or mentor so that soldiers and families could truly feel that they were the number one priority.”
It was the leaders at all levels who helped him cash that check, he added.
“Words fail me in trying to express my gratitude to every (noncomissioned officer), officer and soldier who picked up that vision and ran with it,” Rutherford said. “I am so proud of the soldiers and families of this brigade.”
Being a member of the Ironhorse team is not new to Schoenfeldt, a former commander of the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.
“Mike is no stranger to the ‘First Team’ nor to the Ironhorse Brigade, and we’re absolutely excited to have him ... back at ‘The Great Place,’” he continued. “Mike, enjoy the opportunity to command. I have no doubt you’re ready. Trust your instincts, hold yourself and the team accountable. Love our troopers, and be yourself. You have my full trust, faith and confidence.”
“Thank you for welcoming us back to the family,” Schoenfeldt said. “It is an honor and a privilege to have the chance to command such a great and storied brigade like Ironhorse.”
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